Police are urging members of the public to protect themselves against fraudsters who claim to represent HMRC and trick them into making a bogus payment.
Victims are being contacted in a variety of methods and, in some instances reported, the fraudsters ask for payment in iTunes gift card voucher codes because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on. The scammers don’t need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back of their card over the phone.
In recent times, there have been a number of reported incidents and, while some of these have been unsuccessful, in one case an older person lost a significant quantity of cash before police intervened.
Superintendent Simon Walls said: “Police are urging members of the public to always air on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service.
HMRC will never contact you by telephone and ask for payment of tax arrears by iTunes vouchers or similar payment methods.
“Scammers are inventive and can be very convincing, but each scam is designed to tempt you to drop your guard. If you are at all suspicious about a call that you receive, hang up and phone the organisation that the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line.
“If you have received a call of this kind, or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.”
Further advice and information can also be obtained by visiting https://www.psni.police.uk/crime/fraud/ or www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni”